For the first time ever I have a proper place to put my (mostly cheap and crappy) tools. Although I’m not going to get so carried away as to paint outlines of the tools on the board. Probably not.
Woke up this morning after a frankly terrible weekend in which I hurt my back in the most pointless way possible*, and had this Hall and Oates song stuck in my head, along with visions of people prancing down a street. It was a relief to finally work out where it originated; this awesome clip from a few years back which obviously lodged itself in my subconscious:
* I managed to injure myself while demonstrating the awesome power of suction cups to stick together, and of course they did not stick together quite as well as I was so certain they would, resulting in me falling backwards and getting a very nasty lower back strain. Only today am I able to rise from a chair again without grunting and doing weird contortions as I do so. I was even able to put shoes on without any assistance!
Hey Skype, you stupid piece of crap, how about not making your interface and feature set totally different for every platform, and how about recognising that people might actually need to use you across multiple platforms, and may not want to be notified of the 17 messages and calls they made from their iPhone last week as though they were new. And even if I had 17 actually new messages, do I really need to hear your irritating notification sound 17 times within a few seconds? You suck!
Hey Apple, mostly I still like you, but the correct response to ”I don’t want an iCloud email address” is “Click here to disable it”, not “Oh just don’t check it then”. YOU ARE BAD AT CLOUD. Also, I can’t think of a better use for my old iPhone than to use it as an Airplay receiver, but you’ve decided to make this feature off limits. Oh yeah and your position on not letting people turn off the start-up chime on the Mac is incredibly obnoxious, since most of my restarts occur in the wee small hours. All in all, NOT COOL!
Hey TPG, you bozo, you’re an internet service provider, so really it seems like you should be pretty good in the whole area of communications. How come to transfer my old internet account to my neighbour when I moved out was harder than organising a goddamn bank loan, and involved double-signed paperwork that you promptly managed to misplace and screw the whole process up? Also your account page was always a goddamn piece of crap with the worst presentation of usage stats I’ve seen. And you might want to look up these new fangled internet things called “cookies” – they’re really useful for not wasting your customers’ time by making them log in every time they visit your site. Good riddance, shit-for-brains!
Hey Telstra, at least TPG has an excuse for sucking, in that they have shit for brains. Whereas you are just a giant asshole, charging me $70 a month for my phone and then having the nerve to SMS spam me with demographically insulting offers of great deals on concert tickets. And so kind of you to provide a number for me to call in order to opt out of your obnoxious affiliate promotions (yet no SMS reply allowed for some reason), but how about not opting in your paying customers in the first place, pricks!
Hey Microsoft Team Foundation Server… I would really like back the several hours a month you steal from me by being the most heaping pile of shit (“enterprise software”) that I’ve ever been forced to use. You ruin everything, and I hate you. Git is user-friendly compared to you, you bloated, incontinent crap-sack.
Hey Windows, you already know that you suck, but just know that I know it too. I was almost nostalgic for you after using a Mac for so long, but when I actually had to start using you on a regular basis again I suddenly remembered just how repellent you are.
I feel much better now.
We have all our stuff in the house now, although much of it still in piles and boxes of course, and it’s feeling like home. We finally have ADSL, a couple of days late thanks to some confusion over a second phone line we have which I didn’t know about until today.
Above is the view of the ocean over the neighbour’s roof. It’s very private, as we have large windows that no one is looking into (I’m always conscious of the fishbowl effect of large windows in a house). The view out the back is not so bad either…
As expected, I am really loving being Mr Fixit Guy around the place, with every tweak making something a little more functional. In fact I just fixed a towel rail while waiting for the latest Visual Studio service pack to install! Next on the list is that wonky Hills Hoist, and the wooden fencing around the pool deck which you really don’t want to be leaning against right now.
The only notable thing still not sorted out now is TV reception, as even though we have a giant antenna mast with various spiky doodads attached we simply can’t get any signal from it. So we’re having someone to come out and check that tomorrow– I’m not foolish enough to attempt to solve that one on my own, preferring to settle in a bit before I go falling off the roof attempting some kind of DIY.
PS My favorite tool right now is a cordless (electric) screwdriver, something I always thought was a waste of money since I already have a good cordless drill… but man was I wrong. These things are great, with their compact size and quick-release bits.
UPDATE: TV is sorted, yay. But now the dishwasher is buggered, boo. It’s stopped heating the water, after just a week of us using it. Pretty bummed out by that. Reading up on the model (SB907) it’s likely a common and easily fixed problem (pretty sure it’s already been fixed at least once before), but then the model is not exactly highly regarded, so we might have to spring for a replacement. Grrr.
UPDATE 2: After reading about a common fault in this model I decided to have a crack at repairing it myself and was quite surprised that it actually worked (being the first time I’ve used a soldering iron in at least 20 years). I guess the component just didn’t line up well enough with the copper trace on the PCB during manufacture. Still thinking of getting a new machine anyway as this one’s not great– doesn’t dry well and doesn’t do a good job with pots and pans. This LG model sounds like a good one.
And so it begins, accompanied of course by rain all weekend.
Some observations on the place now we’ve had time to look at things more closely:
- Reverse cycle air-conditioning is awesome! Even though the house is basically a big empty echo chamber right now, it takes just 10 minutes or so to get the place warm and cosy. Probably we’ll be less impressed when we get the first electricity bill, but it’s got to be more efficient than running electric fan heaters (which is what I do in my small flat without achieving nearly the same level of warmth).
- Houses should come with instruction manuals. There are so many keys, so many light switches, it feels like it will take forever to get the hang of what does what. And I still have no idea about pool maintenance; it seems to magically turn the filter pump on based on some invisible timer right now, and there’s lots of pipes and a big black round thing… I really have no idea. I believe I have to chuck some chlorine in at some point.
- You don’t have to wash dishes before you move them. It’s a special delight to just fill a crate with all the dirty plates and cups and stick them in the dishwasher on arrival. Woot!
- Carpet WTF. There are these big grey marks on the carpet in the bedrooms wherever there was furniture. It’s one thing to be faded, but these are a totally different color!
- Remote control garage door sans remote. Apparently this got lost in the transition, which makes the whole moving in the rain thing a little less fun since I can’t just click a doohicky and drive into the garage. I have a replacement on order.
- On closer inspection, we realize that most things (taps, fittings, trim etc) are shonkier than they first appear. In fairness this is probably true of almost everything that has ever been or will be, but still comes as an unwanted surprise when towel rails spontaneously collapse on contact and the exhaust fan in the guest bathroom makes a horrible battering sound as if it had a possum caught in it.
- Some holes in the walls where I’ve removed unwanted fittings reveal old style plaster with horsehair. I haven’t seen that stuff since accidentally bashing holes in my bedroom wall as a child.
- Basement (rumpus room) lacks ventilation, so currently it’s looking like my workspace will be upstairs. But then I will have less wall space for blackboards and whiteboards and such. In the long run we really need to add some extra ventilation anyway to make the place less hospitable to future termites, but at this point it’s really just the moving we’re focusing on.
- There’s an evil, evil plant with super spiky leaves (like, needle sharp) next to the front path which stabs me every time I walk by. I plan to take some shears with me and visit extreme violence on that plant tomorrow.
A special bonus hassle is that I got rear-ended while driving back from the house this evening, by an uninsured driver, and I’m borrowing a friend’s station wagon, so that’s a huge and unforseen pain in the ass.
Update: so I hired a truck (which is what I should have done in the first place), and here’s exactly what the weather was like ALL FREAKIN’ DAY. Huge thanks to my special helpers who came to my rescue when I most needed it.
[Warning, this post contains a lot more swears]
What with buying a house being one of the biggest and most stressy commitments you can make, it’s REALLY ANNOYING that everyone is so fucking half-assed about how they do their jobs. We’ve been stressing for the last week about how little feedback we’ve been getting from the various solicitors and financial institutions involved as settlement date approaches, and now at the last minute, after us constantly asking whether there’s anything we need to get sorted (to the point where it was clear they thought we were being unnecessarily concerned) we’re finally informed oh there actually is a problem because some fucking paperwork didn’t get transferred.
So after some urgent ringing around there’s going to be a last minute dash to the fucking bank tomorrow to pick up a cheque and drive it to a fucking solicitor 50 fucking km away because for some reason a fucking bank can’t electronically transfer the money we already agreed to several fucking weeks ago. We shouldn’t have to do shit at this point, we’re already legally committed to this mortgage, we even accepted a longer than usual settlement period just so make sure it all went smoothly… but no, now we have to chase this bullshit up for god knows what reason, and if we hadn’t then we wouldn’t get access to OUR HOUSE until after the weekend we’re supposed to be moving.
“Oh and by the way you should organize a pre-settlement inspection a few days before settlement”, they fucking inform us 36 hours before the cheque is supposed to be handed over.
Jesus Christ, so-called professionals, take some fucking pride in your work!
You know who isn’t totally shit at their jobs? Hospital staff and teachers. Everyone else is rubbish.
Memory capacities have been growing so fast for so long it’s easy to lose track of just what the numbers mean. For reference, consider that the following tiny picture of a monkey occupies 16K of RAM (74 pixels square, with three bytes per pixel):
Many computers in the early 80′s had less than this much memory in total.
I was lucky enough to make my start on an Amstrad CPC464 around 1985, which had 64KB of RAM!
Loading data from tape was error prone (and horribly noisy) and took about 90 seconds per monkey. A 30 minute audio tape could hold up to 22 monkeys.
Fast forward 27 years or so, and the computer I’m typing this on has 800 thousand monkeys worth of memory, and 60 million monkeys worth of hard drive space. It can download monkeys from the internet at a rate of more than 90 per second.
So I’m 41 years old, as of fairly recently. And I’ve been programming in some form or another for more than 25 years! It’s funny to realize if you divided programmers into old and young I am now well and truly one of the oldies, as I don’t really feel that way.
But then I realize that coders under 30 aren’t really going to relate much to stuff like the following, or even remember what it was like before home internet connections, and I start to feel a teeny bit old.
In theory we are to finalize ‘settlement’ and receive the keys to the new house this Friday, which I am both excited and apprehensive about. I’ve moved house 7 times in as many years and am rather ready to stay in one place for a while. Moving is really one of the most horribly tedious, stressful activities in life, but in this instance I just keep reminding myself: “But this house will be OURS”.
I don’t actually have a lot of stuff to move, but even so I am kind of dreading it and wishing I had a personal assistant who could do it all for me. And of course, because I don’t have a lot of stuff, it’s not worth hiring movers, which means lots of borrowing vehicles and lugging crap myself– trying to avoid roping in friends as helpers at this point as the only thing worse than moving house is helping someone else move house. A small mercy is that the place I’m currently living could be charitably called “run down”, so I don’t have to be quite so anxious about leaving the odd scuff mark and such as the place was already amply blemished when I moved in 2 years ago, so I’m pretty confident I’ll be leaving it in a more habitable state than I found it.
I will miss the seaside shackiness of it though.
- Ten minutes before the meeting is a good time to suddenly recall that it’s not being held on Skype like all your other meetings are.
- Search your inbox for the invitation containing the URL for the meeting.
- Click on it, and you should get to a page telling you the meeting is yet to start. You will see a big button that says JOIN, which although currently disabled will obviously become clickable when the meeting is about to start, so you’re all set with minutes to spare!
- Just before the scheduled start time this page will refresh, allowing you to enter your name, email and password before clicking JOIN.
- Oh, you don’t have a password…?
- Frantically scan your email invitation, which will helpfully inform you that you can obtain a password from the meeting organizer.
- Have a go logging in with no password first, just to confirm it won’t work.
- Email the organizer, apologising for the slight delay and ask for the meeting password.
- Once you receive the password, enter it along with your name and email and click JOIN.
- SURPRISE! NOW IS EXACTLY THE MOST APPROPRIATE TIME TO FIND OUT YOU NEED THIS JAVA APPLET INSTALLED!
- Enable Java, then download and install the applet, violating every instinct you have.
- Reload the page.
- Your browser should say something like: “Could not load WebbyChat General Plugin Container”
- Restart browser, revisit the meeting page, reenter your login, and click JOIN.
- You should see the same message as in step 13.
- Google: “Could not load WebbyChat General Plugin Container”
- According to some person on the internet it doesn’t run in Chrome on Mountain Lion (you dummy!) so try Safari instead.
- Launch Safari, go to the meeting page, enter login, click JOIN.
- And you’re in! You should now see a shared desktop waiting for you.
- Say ”hello, hello?” a few times out loud, just until it is clear to you that this is not one of those new fangled web apps that does audio.
- Click on that button with an audio symbol on it to be shown a helpful 7 digit phone number.
- Dial the number to confirm it is definitely not a valid phone number, with or without a country code.
- Look in the WebbyChat window and you might see some text chat going on, where someone might helpfully suggest an actual phone number to call, rather than that meeting code you’ve been trying to dial.
- Dial the phone number.
- Listen to the last half of a recorded welcome message.
- Now listen to the first half. It will instruct you to enter the meeting code.
- Clumsily enter the code, pausing just a fraction too long after the third digit so the recorded voice can now scold you for invalid entry and give you one more chance.
- Enter the code again, this time forgetting to press the “pound sign” in a timely manner, the voice is not impressed at all, and starts telling you about the helpdesk for technical problems.
- Hang up and take a deep breath.
- Redial the number.
- Quickly but carefully enter the meeting code, and press “pound”.
- You should now be able to both hear and apologize profusely to your colleagues who’ve been waiting patiently a couple of minutes now. Congratulations, and welcome to the future!